Asian markets rally after US delays some tariffs on China

US move could signal progress toward trade deal

HONG KONG - Asian stocks rallied a bit Wednesday after the United States decided to postpone some tariffs on Chinese goods, fueling hopes for a trade deal between the two countries.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index eked out a slight gain of 0.1%, with tech stocks leading the way. Tencent advanced 1.8% ahead of earnings. It reported a 35% net profit in the last quarter after market close.

Smartphone component manufacturer AAC Technologies jumped 1.1%. Sunny Optical Technology soared 8.7%, after reporting a 20% increase in its first-half net profit Tuesday.

China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.4%.

But both indexes pared earlier gains after new data about China's retail sales and industrial production came in worse than expected.

Industrial production rose 4.8% in July, the lowest growth in 17 years. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 5.8% rise.

Retails sales grew 7.6% in July, compared with an estimated 8.6% increase.

Japan's Nikkei rose 1%. South Korea's Kosipi gained 0.7%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4%.

The Chinese yuan also rallied on the onshore market, after China's central bank guided the currency higher for the first time in more than a week.

On Wednesday, the People's Bank of China issued 30 billion yuan worth of central bank bills in Hong Kong — part of a plan to shore up its currency.

The bills drain yuan out of the market and push up interest rates, making it more expensive for investors to bet on a weaker currency.

On Wednesday, the yuan gained 0.4% from Tuesday's levels in the onshore market, trading at around 7.02 per US dollar in mainland China.

But in the offshore market, where the yuan moves more freely, it traded weaker than it did Tuesday -— at around 7.04 yuan per dollar.

Here are some other big moves at 6:30 p.m. Hong Kong time:

  • Cathay Pacific Group rebounded 2.8% in Hong Kong. The airline carrier's stock has been heavily hit by the mass protests.
  • Stocks in Asia took a positive lead from Wall Street. US markets soared Tuesday. The Dow rose about 373 points, or 1.4%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained 1.5% and 2% respectively.

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